10 Indispensable Items that Your Dog Shouldn’t Go Without
The Ultimate Big Dog Gift Guide is here and filled with 10 exceptional products that are sure to put a smile on the face of every dog lover on your list.
If you are looking for a special gift for a big dog lover or big dog in your life this holiday season, look no further than this list! While I do not have ALL of the items on this list, they are all products I have either purchased myself or plan to purchase this holiday season for my Mastiffs. None of these products were sent to me by the company in exchange for a review or for placement on this list and I am NOT being compensated in anyway by any of these companies.
*For your convenience, I am including product links, some of which are affiliate links from which I may receive a small compensation. There is NO ADDED COST to you should you use these links. If you do, I very much appreciate your support! Every little bit helps and allows me to continue publishing valuable content like this for big dogs and the owners who love them.
While the The Cooling Pet Pad is not a product I have used, it is one that I plan on buying this year for Junior and Sulley. If you have been following BigDogMom.com for any length of time, you know what a source of frustration their hock and elbow calluses have been for me. With the Arizona heat and the irresistible temptation of the cool tile floors, getting my big dogs to lay on orthopedic dog beds or soft cushioned bedding has been a constant struggle. I have been on a crusade to find a solution that will heal their calluses and this Self-Cooling Pet Pad is one such possible solution.
The pressure-activated, non-toxic, cooling gel formula inside the Cooling Pet Pad is activated by your pets weight/heat, lasts for up to 3 hours and automatically recharges itself after 15-20 minutes of non-use. The cooling pad cover is machine washable which is an essential for any big dog household.
For more on my series on big dog elbow and hock calluses, read:
- Big Dog Calluses: Are They Inevitable Or Preventable?
- How to Treat Dog Calluses Naturally with DIY Elbow Butter and Essential Oils
- THE ORIGINAL SELF-COOLING PET PAD - our patented pressure activated gel cushion cools and soothes your dogs and cats on contact for up to 3 hours, providing a cool spot for your dog year round. Others may try to copy us, do not accept cheap imitators
- NO WATER, ELECTRICITY OR REFRIGERATION REQUIRED - it really works, the pad features special gel formula that automatically recharges after 15-20 minutes of non-use. It's a simple solution to avoid overheating and dehydration for hot, panting dogs that struggle in the summer weather
- HEAVEN FOR YOUR POOCH ON A BALMY DAY - simply lay the perfect pet seat where your four-legged friend likes to relax and let the chill pad go to work immediately. It is sheer bliss and offers relief from heat, muscle and joint pain, making it an ideal treatment for senior animals or for pets with health conditions
- MULTI-USE AND PORTABLE - why not lay the pad on the floor, sofa, in your pet's crate, kennel, bed or outdoors in the shade to help them feel cooler. The mat is lightweight and folds effortlessly, so it is ideal for travel. A must-have item at home and on the road
- DESIGNED FOR EXTRA LARGE SIZED DOGS - measures 27.5 x 45 inches, for dogs weighing over 90 lbs. It's super easy to care for, simply clean by hand with a damp cloth. Do not leave in direct sunlight or heat as this will affect the performance of the Cool Pet Pad
9. Real Dog Box
I am going to be a little harsh here, but I always want to be honest with you.
I have not found a good subscription service that truly meets the needs of big dogs. And I have tried several who market specifically to us big dog owners, only to be disappointed (at best) with the quality and durability of their toys and treats.
That is, until I started ordering from Real Dog Box (formerly Real Pet Food).
Real Dog Box is a monthly subscription service that offers treats and/or chews for dogs of all sizes. Hand selected from locally sourced meat, all of the treats and chews are air dried with no processing or other ingredients added. They are 100% meat and 100% delicious… or so say Junior and Sulley.
I order the monthly chew box which contains a variety of light, medium and heavy weight chews, 2-3 per package (9-10 total per box). For the price and quality of the chews, I truly can’t recommend Real Dog Box highly enough!
**Don’t forget! Let them know Big Dog Mom sent you so you receive your FREE bag of treats with your first order. Happy chewing!
This is a two-for-one gift idea because, for me, these two items go hand in hand. I rarely use my treat bag without my clicker and vice versa.
There are so many options out there for treat bags, but Doggone Good is the brand I use and recommend.
Doggone Good Rapid Rewards Treat Pouch is both spacious and flexible for any dog training purpose. Because Junior and Sulley aren’t the most food motivated dogs, I have to plan for more than one type of treat, squeakers, and, on occasion, a ball, when we are training to maintain their interest and excitement. With the separate compartments inside the pouch, I am able to organize all of the items and treats I need in one convenient, easy to access place.
It has a magnetic closure with cord pull for quick open/close operation, a waste-bag dispenser feature (one side only) and a pocket on the side perfect for a clicker I have only ever used the belt clip attached to the back of the pouch, but it has belt loops as a secondary option for dog owners who want that. Not only are these pouches machine washable, they are Made in the USA which is a huge plus!
- Must-have training tool for sound-sensitive pets
- Easy to use in any position
- Small enough to hide in your palm
- Activates with just a small amount of pressure
- Designed by Karen Pryor Clicker Trainers
Featured in my Top 10 Best Toys for Big Dogs: Battle-Tested and Big Dog Approved, West Paw Design continues to be my absolute favorite when it comes to toys for big dogs. Hands down, they are the best for quality and durability, two things sorely lacking in most dog toys on the market today.
Made in Montana, West Paw Design toys are dishwasher safe, latex-free, FDA-compliant (meaning it’s safe to eat off), and come with their Love It Guarantee. Check out the rest of my comments about West Paw Design in Top 10 Best Toys for Big Dogs and get your big dog one today!
Based on the popularity of How to Treat Dog Calluses Naturally with DIY Elbow Butter and Essential Oils and how much I love this product myself, I am including it in my Top 10 list for this year.
While it is not a hard product to make if you have all of the ingredients and the time, some in the Big Dog Mom Community have expressed a desire to be able to just buy the finished product.
If you don’t have a dehydrator yet, this product is an absolute MUST for every dog owner!
We’ve all heard the tragic stories of dogs losing their lives from tainted dog treats. The documentary Pet Fooled showcased a few of these stories which I find as scary as they are heartbreaking.
As a result, I have pretty much stopped buying bagged treats in the store for my dogs. I choose to make their treats instead so I have complete control over the ingredients I use. You can read How To Make Healthy And Delicious Liver Treats For Your Dog as one example.
From banana chips, apple slices, and homemade liver to delicious beef jerky, the number of snacks and treats you can make for your dogs and your family are endless! And, while there are a plethora of options out there, I highly recommend the NESCO dehydrator.
I bought my NESCO almost 20 years ago and it works as well now as it did when I bought it. I love it! The one I have is not digital and doesn’t have a timer, so I am linking to an upgraded version of the one I have… it’s on my wishlist too this year! This NESCO dehydrator has patented airflow system which ensures even temperature control and drying without the need to rotate the trays. And a huge bonus – it is Made in the USA in Wisconsin.
- Programmable Digital Timer
- 1000 watts of drying power
- Patented Converga-Flow Air Flow
- Adjustable Temperature Control
- Expandable to 20 trays
4. Best Book of the Year for Dog Owners
Ok, so this one is not new, but it is one that I believe EVERY dog owner should have in their reference library!
Turid Rugaas is a Norwegian dog trainer and behaviorist who dedicated her life’s work to studying canine social interactions. She uses the term calming signals to describe specific body language that dogs use to avoid conflict, invite play, and communicate with one another.
Understanding these signals is absolutely critical to understanding your dog and how he’s feeling and what he’s trying to tell you. This is how canines talk to one another, and, if we care to pay attention, how they would like to talk to us.
- training field calm aggressive behavior
- Turid Rugaas
- Publisher: Direct Book Service
- Edition no. 2 (12/14/2005)
- Paperback: 78 pages
This is is a product that, while I have not used it myself, is one I absolutely love. I had been looking for some non-slip rugs and runners to use in our mostly tile floor house, and a friend in the Big Dog Mom Community raved about Ruggable Rugs so I knew I needed to check them out.
This product is essentially a 2-piece rug system, combining a decorative and machine washable (YES!) cover with a cushioned non-slip rug pad. It is water repellent, stain resistant and machine washable, making it perfect for families with pets and kids. Ruggable Rugs are available in a variety of colors and patterns, indoors or outdoors.
And, if all that wasn’t enough, the entire rug is manufactured in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. The only downside that I can see is that Ruggable Rugs are not entirely manufactured here in the United States. In spite of that, I feel this product would make a terrific gift for the big dog lover in your life!
- MACHINE WASHABLE 2-PIECE RUG SYSTEM - A decorative and machine washable Rug Cover combines with a cushioned non-slip Rug Pad to create Ruggable's stylish and durable area rugs. Toss the cover in the washer/dryer and voilà, your Ruggable is ready to use again! Ruggable rugs stay looking clean and fresh, all while protecting your floors.
- PET AND KID FRIENDLY - Whether Junior spills his juice or Fido's fur has you in a frenzy, Ruggable's machine washable, water repellent, and stain resistant design can handle the daily wear and tear of a bustling household. The non-slip pad provides cushioning, thickness and security, keeping your Ruggable firmly in place under toddler feet and puppy paws.
- SAVES TIME AND MONEY - No more wasting time and money on professional rug cleaning services; with Ruggable, clean-up is easy, convenient, and affordable. Instead of spending time cleaning or renting specialty equipment, you can enjoy relaxing in the comfort of your home.
- ECO-FRIENDLY AND SUSTAINABLE - With Ruggable's patented system, wash and reuse your rug cover whenever you need, avoiding the waste and cost of frequently replacing rugs. The Rug Cover is 100% eco-friendly and sustainable polyester, and the Rug Pad is made from 100% polyester surface from recycled plastic bottles with TPR (thermoplastic resin) non-slip backing.
- VERSATILE - Ruggable rugs are available in a variety of colors and patterns to suit any home decor style. Their pleasing and practical design is perfect for any room in your home: the entryway, mud room, living room, dining room, bathroom, rec room, kid's room, nursery, and all types of flooring. These are indoor/outdoor rugs, so you can even use them outside your front door or out on the patio.
This product is so great and such an integral part of my life with big dogs, that it had to be included in the gift guide again this year. Last year the Twistep was ranked number 1 on my list as the BEST product of the year for big dog owners. This year, it falls to a very respectable number 2.
I drive an older Lincoln Navigator so the dog hitch step makes it super easy for my two Mastiffs to enter or exit the vehicle. No more lugging around or having to store a bulky and heavy dog ramp. The Twistep swivels into position quickly and easily and when you don’t need it, you easily stow it under the bumper, out of the way.
If you drive an SUV or a truck and are looking for an easy, safe way to get your big dogs in and out, look no further! The Heininger Twistep gets our highest rating of 5 paws for awesomeness!
- An instant, multi-use dog step that provides dogs and people better access to your SUV
- Install once, step twists under car for storage, with no need to remove after each use
- Fits 1. 25-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers and allows for 6 inches of height adjustment
- Fully assembled out of the box, simple and easy to use in minutes with BONUS Hitch Lock included for additional security
- Large Platform holds 400 lbs. and has a non-slip surface
- An instant, multi-use step that provides dogs and people better access to your pickup truck
- Install once, step twists under truck for storage, with no need to remove after each use
- Fully assembled out of the box, simple and easy to use in minutes
- Large Platform holds 400 lbs and has a non-slip surface is great for pets and people
- Fits 2 inch receiver hitches
Can I get a drum roll…..
Coming in at number 1 this year is the Kurgo Journey Air Dog Harness.
After Junior’s Wobblers diagnosis, I set out to find a harness for him that would eliminate pressure on his neck. Traditional collars and gentle leaders put pressure on the neck and, for dogs with Wobbler Syndrome, can cause additional damage to the cervical vertebrae where the spinal cord is being compressed or the discs are degenerating.
My challenge was finding a harness that would be high quality, functional, and fit my very large young Mastiff. His measurements exceeded the limit for nearly all of the harnesses I looked at with the exception of Kurgo. While this harness is definitely snug on Junior, my guess is the XL size will fit 98% of all giant breed dogs out there.
The Kurgo Journey Air Dog Harness is perfect for running, hiking and walking and includes a deep V-neck to help reduce strain on neck and allow freedom of movement. It has a front and back leash attachment and a handle on the back for assistance if the dog needs it. It comes in several colors with reflective trim for night time visibility. And is easy to put on and take off and adjust for a custom fit. Lastly, while I haven’t tested this feature out, it is machine washable.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Kurgo products are designed and manufactured in the USA and offer a commitment to only the highest quality with a lifetime guarantee.
If you are looking for an alternative to a traditional collar or gentle leader for your big dog, Junior and I highly recommend checking out Kurgo. We think you will be impressed and ready to finally take your journey with FIT and FREEDOM!